Tagged: military kids

Life Insurance for Military Kids

Posted by Admin
military-kidsUnder normal circumstances, you will live to see your children grow to adulthood before you pass on. But sometimes things don’t work out as we hoped – and we leave a large life insurance benefit behind. Normally, a married person who has children would name his or her spouse as beneficiary. It’s up to the surviving spouse to manage the large tax-free life insurance death benefit for herself and the surviving children. But suppose you survive your spouse? Or suppose you break up, or you find that your spouse just can’t be trusted with large amounts of money? Or suppose you don’t have a spouse at all? Many parents make the mistake of naming their children directly as beneficiaries on their life insurance policy. But this could become a huge problem after your death. Here’s why: The life insurance company cannot give a large cash award to a minor child. If you die, and your child is listed as your beneficiary, the life insurance company will hold that money back until a legal guardian is appointed. This could be a time-consuming process. Meanwhile, that life insurance money may be desperately needed. You could name a friend, or a sister or brother as the beneficiary, in exchange for a promise to use the money for your children’s sole best interests. But that’s only as good as the beneficiary’s word. If the beneficiary took all the money that you meant to fund your children’s’ futures, and blew it in Vegas, your children would have no recourse. What’s more, there are some life insurance agents who aren’t aware of a pretty easy workaround. (Yes, they get tested on this stuff when they get their insurance license – but I saw an agent working just today – a retired sergeant major selling supplemental life insurance to a group of National Guardsmen – who didn’t know how to handle the issue.) Uniform Transfer to Minors Act The Uniform Transfer to Minors Act, or UTMA, allows you or a life insurance company to establish a custodial account on behalf of your children. You would name the custodian on the trust – someone you have a great deal of confidence in to handle the money responsibly and faithfully on behalf of your children. This allows the life insurance company to release the funds immediately – and they become available to help support your children within days, under normal circumstances (though SGLI is notoriously slow to issue death benefits). How it Works When you apply for life insurance, or when the company delivers the policy, you will have a spot on the application or on a separate form that prompts you to establish a UTMA custodial account (a few states operate under a similar but older arrangement called UGMA, for the Uniform Gift to Minors Act). Rather than name your children as primary or secondary beneficiaries directly, they should go here. You will also be prompted to select a custodian for that account. If you die, the life insurance company will set up a custodial account in your children’s names, with the beneficiary you select having sole discretionary authority over those funds. Some companies will issue a paper check to be deposited into that account. More companies lately will simply wire the money to the account they set up, and provide the beneficiary with a checkbook for the fund. From that point, the custodian you select has a fiduciary duty to use the funds solely in your children’s best interests. If they steal or misappropriate funds from your children’s custodial account, your children have a right to petition a court for an accounting, and even sue the custodian for the squandered or stolen money. Isn’t the UTMA a kind of trust? Not quite, though they sometimes serve similar purposes. A trust is a much more sophisticated and flexible vehicle that gives you, the grantor, many more options and is more flexible. They also cost a lot more to set up than an UTMA or UGMA. From a planning point of view, the main difference between an UTMA and a trust is the question of ownership. Assets in an UTMA account are technically your children’s property. Which means they automatically get to take full control of the asset when they turn 18 or 21, depending on the state. Assets in a trust are the trusts’ property, not your children’s property – and you can attach more strings to a trust, such as requiring your children to attend or complete college before gaining control of the funds. Your children’s creditors also cannot sue for assets held in a trust, but they may be able to attach assets held in custodial account in a lawsuit. Furthermore, because you can have the trust remain in possession of the assets for as long as you like, you don’t run the risk of suddenly putting large amounts of money into the hands of an immature 18 or 21 year-old. For all you know, your precious little toddler princess will be struggling with drug addiction in 16 years. Suddenly inheriting a six-figure death benefit could enable her to squander all the money very quickly – and it may even kill her. With a trust, you can have the trustees hold back the money until she gets her life together. By transferring assets to an UTMA, you could hurt your children’s’ chances of qualifying for need-based financial aid for college, under the federal financial aid system. This is because the Department of Education expects college students to contribute a much higher percentage of their own assets to college than parents do. Parents may well want to keep some separation between the child and the life insurance proceeds for that reason. If the amount involved is quite large, it may be worthwhile to pay the added costs to establish a trust. Only a licensed attorney can draw up the paperwork. If you’re on a budget, or the amount of money involved is generally small, then you may want to lean more towards the UTMA solution. But don’t go down the blind alley of leaving large amounts of money directly to children. It doesn’t work!   #lifeinsurance #militarykids #utma  

Summer Fun for Small Humans: Camps and opportunities for military kids

Posted by Kelli McKinney
Somewhere around the third week of summer vacation, the chorus begins. “I’m bored.” “There’s nothing to do.” “Can we go someplace?” By now, you’ve probably heard this song a few times – or at least enough to start scouring the Internet for activity ideas. Is it too late for summer camp? Can anyone afford summer camp? Search for local summer camps on the web may net you some interesting finds.  Although many camps fill up quickly, there are usually some last-minute cancellations and a persistent parent may be able to waitlist their way to a coveted spot. And if you’re interested in summer experiences geared toward the needs of military kids, Operation We Are Here also provides a (long) list of summer camps that are one-of-a-kind opportunities. Plus, military families are often eligible for scholarships – or even free registration. They’re so cool they make us wish we could go to camp! Here’s just a few that we found on the awesome site Operation We Are Here:  A Backpack Journalist summer workshops and camps Helping youth ages 12-18 find their voice through Narrative Writing, Reporting and Broadcast, Songwriting, Film making, Cowboy Poetry and Digital Storytelling. For military youth and service members, especially diagnosed with PTSD or TBI, our writing and journaling and digital storytelling are focused on helping each service member work through the issues each face. Air Force Reserve/Air National Guard Teen Leadership Summits A week-long camp for 14-18 year old dependent teens of current Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard military members focusing on leadership development and self-confidence, learning about programs and services available to AF dependents, and building an appreciation for and sense of belonging to the AF community. Air Force Space Camp – Huntsville, AL This camp focuses on showing12-18 year olds what it takes to be an astronaut Imagine experiencing simulated Space Shuttle missions, training simulators, rocket building and launches, scientific experiments, and lectures on the past, present, and future of space exploration. Army Reserve Family Programs Camps for Youth Youth have the opportunity to participate in unique experiences at little or no cost. Winter Camping Opportunities are provided by Military Teen Adventure Camp grants, Operation Military Kids, and YMCA locations. These camps are open to Military-connected youth regardless of Branch of Service who have a parent/loved one in any phase of the deployment cycle; priority is given to children/youth from geographically dispersed families. Camps for youth with special needs (cognitive and physical) are also listed. Camp C.O.P.E. Camp C.O.P.E. provides military families with an unforgettable weekend at camp. Camp C.O.P.E. gives these children hope and patience and courage. Camp C.O.P.E  lets them be just kids- again! Through therapeutic interventions, certified therapists teach children and their families how to cope with their changed world due to deployment, injury or loss of a family member as a result of their service in our country’s military. Camp C.O.P.E. provides weekend camps across the country free of charge to children and families of military personnel. Camp Corral Camp Corral is a free, one-of-a-kind summer camp for children of wounded, disabled or fallen military service members. Since its founding, in 2011 as a one camp pilot program, Camp Corral has grown over 700%. Over 6,500 children have been served and the program has expanded to 23 camps in 19 states. Although any child from a military family is eligible, registration priority is given to children of wounded, disabled or fallen military service members. Camp Yellow Ribbon (East Troy, WI) Camp Yellow Ribbon 2015 will take place August 16-20, 2015 at Camp Edwards YMCA Camp & Retreat Center, East Troy, WI. Camp Yellow Ribbon offers a free week of summer fun for military kids with parents who have been, are currently, or will be deployed. Camp Yellow Ribbon provides a fun and educational outlet for children in military families, from all service branches. The goal of this specialized camp is to help them to learn how to cope with the challenges of having a family member who is deployed or has returned from overseas. Our goal is to create a memorable camp experience and an exciting week of outdoor fun and adventure while allowing campers the opportunity to gather and learn in a safe place, vent their fears and frustrations and to meet other children who are experiencing similar challenges. Camp Yellow Ribbon also gives campers opportunities to learn, grow, and celebrate the military experience. Defending the Blue Line Our mission at Defending The Blue Line (DTBL) is ensuring that children of military members are afforded every opportunity to participate in the game of hockey. We accomplish this by providing free equipment for military kids, hockey camps, special events, and financial assistance for registration fees and other costs associated with hockey. Minnesota National Guard Youth/Teen Camp (Camp Ripley, MN) The Minnesota National Guard Youth/Teen Camp is for children of active and retired Minnesota National Guard service members. Activities include archery, hiking, biking, canoeing and camping – all while connecting with other military kids. Exploring a training site at Camp Ripley, seeing various military vehicles and marching in formation help youth better understand the military their parents serve in. Week 1: July 26 to Aug. 1, 2015 Week 2: Aug. 2 to Aug. 8, 2015 Operation Free Ride (Horses for Heroes) An opportunity to ride a horse for free! Operation Free Ride is a program that offers weekly, hosted or sponsored horseback riding sessions that are free for every member of their family! This program serves military families with a deployed family member, as well as families who have a family member with a disability or serious illness. While our program is not able to serve the needs of the developmentally disabled or those with serious or terminal illnesses, we invite the other family members to enjoy the distractions and benefits to body and soul that only a day with horses can provide. Operation Free Ride is just one of the programs that help Horses4Heroes fulfill its mission to make horseback riding affordable for, and accessible to, the families of the heroes in our community including, but not limited to: active duty military personnel, veterans, law enforcement officers, fire fighters/EMTs, critical care and hospice nurses and others. Our Military Kids (grant for children of National Guard and Reserves) Along with the sacrifice of having a parent away in service for months at a time, many Guard and Reserve families are financially stretched and cannot afford the fees for sports, fine arts, or tutoring programs so crucial to a child’s sense of well-being. Additionally, because these families are Guard and Reserve, they are geographically dispersed throughout the country and often live too far from military bases and installations to access the available support services. Our Military Kids, founded in 2004, fills these gaps with a simple grant program that pays for children’s activities. Eligible families apply for a grant, and within days of receiving the application in the Our Military Kids office, a packet is sent to the child thanking them for their service to our country and notifying them of the award. The check to pay for the activity is sent directly to the service provider. Our Military Kids helps families who often fall outside the parameters of established support programs – the families of National Guard and Reserve service men and women who have been and are continuing to sacrifice so much for our country. Operation Military Kids Summer Camps Operation: Military Kids is proud to host camping experiences for the children, youth and families of all military services experiencing deployment. Visit the link for information on camps for 2015. Also visit the link “State Information” on their website (and their state Facebook page) to learn of camp opportunities for military children in your state. Operation Purple Camp (National Military Family Association) Operation Purple camps offer a free week of summer fun for military kids with parents who have been, are currently, or will be deployed. The goal of the Operation Purple camp program is to give military children tools to help deal with the stresses that result from a parent’s deployment, through a memorable camp experience in a “purple” environment. Operation Purple camps are open to military children of all ranks and services: active and reserve components—and give priority to children whose parents are in a deployment phase. Plantation Military Camp Program (Broward County, FL) The Frank Veltri Tennis Center, the Plantation Community Tennis Corporation and the Broward County Veteran’s Council have been working together since Summer 2010 to provide free tennis camp scholarships to children with a parent or parents on ACTIVE Duty or who are currently DEPLOYED and reside in Broward County, Florida (priority to City of Plantation Residents). Purple Heart Ranch (Sterling City, TX) (Military Warriors Hero Support Foundation) Purple Heart Ranch is open exclusively to combat wounded heroes and to Gold Star families. The ranch is also open to children of combat wounded heroes and those who have a parent currently deployed to a combat zone. Both the families of the wounded heroes and the parents of the children are encouraged to come and enjoy the experience with the hunters. There is fishing available at both properties and many other activities for the families. Both ranches are rich in history and are littered with Native American artifacts, especially arrow heads. Sisters under Sail – Daughters of US Military Sailing Scholarship Sisters Under Sail is a non-profit dedicated to teaching teenage girls leadership skills and life lessons through sail training. Daughters of U.S. Military and Canadian Forces, age 13 – 18, have been invited to sail aboard Tall Ship Unicorn with Sisters Under Sail as we sail the Great Lakes in 2015. Sailing as the only all-female crewed tall ship in the world, Sisters Under Sail is dedicated to teaching teen girls leadership skills and life lessons through sail training. To honor their service and sacrifice, Sisters will award several scholarships to teens whose parent(s) is a Fallen Warrior or Active Duty, Active Status in the Military, including the National Guard, Reservists and Coast Guard. VFW Camp Trotter (Newaygo, MI) Camp Trotter is a children’s camp located 7 miles East of Newaygo on M-82. The camp sits on the shores of one of west Michigan’s beautiful and picturesque lakes.  It is owned and operated by the Department of Michigan Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.  The management and oversight is carried out by a committee of elected members of the Michigan VFW, who take pride in keeping the camp in pristine condition to ensure the comfort and Safety of our guests.  The camp is fully licensed and insured with the State of Michigan. Camp Trotter exists primarily for children of veterans, but is not limited thereto; we offer five weeks of camping to children seven to twelve years old from all over the United States. The camp includes summer activities on site including swimming, boating, hiking, biking, arts and crafts, archery, softball, volleyball, as well as campfire activities. The children are given a general knowledge of science, art, and nature, and taught patriotism, courage, self reliance and kindred virtues. We try to further instill upon our campers morals and values by combining educational activities with fun, our goal is to guide and assist our youth to build a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society.

Moving the Goalposts: Army Slashes GI Bill “Sharing” Program

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Army Slashes GI Bill “Sharing” ProgramYou want to transfer your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a family member? You must now sign on for an additional four-year hitch. The new requirement applies no matter what your time in service is. Retirement eligible? You’ve already done your 20? Tough. Sign on for an additional four years.

That’ a significant shift in policy: Up until the April 15th announcement, you could transfer benefits to family members with an additional service requirement of one to three years, and in some cases, zero years. The new policy is effective August 1st.

That’s right: The Army and the other services except for the Navy tried to save money last month by eliminating the Tuition Assistance program – until they got smacked by Congress. Now they’re looking for other ways to lower their education/benefits bill. A recent Army Times piece indicates that Congress is quite willing to consider further cuts to pay and benefits, as the federal government moves to tighten up its defense outlays.

Meanwhile, spouses and children benefiting from the transferability of Post-9-11 GI Bill benefits make up about a fourth of all GI Bill educational benefits recipients, an increase of 13 percent over the previous year, according to reporting by Navy Times.

This is going to weigh heavily on soldiers who had planned to transfer benefits to children who don’t start school until the fall semester or later. Money these soldiers planned on using for their own childrens’ education has now gone up in smoke, unless they extend their time in service.

However, according to the Army’s Human Resources Command, soldiers who transfer benefits and who are then involuntarily separated because of a reduction in force will not have to repay the VA for these transferred benefits.

In addition to the RIF exception, the Army also announced the following exceptions: 

  1. The death of the soldier.
  2. Discharge or release from active duty for a medical condition which pre-existed the service of the soldier and was not service connected.
  3. Discharge or release from active duty for hardship.
  4. Discharge or release from active duty for a physical or mental condition not a disability and that did not result from the soldier’s own willful misconduct, but did interfere with the performance of duty.

 More details are available on the Army’s website.

Operation Purple Camp Provides Free Summer Experience for Children of Deployed or Deploying Troops

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Operation Purple CampApplications are now being accepted for Operation Purple Camp, a one-weekend long summer adventure especially for children of uniformed service members who have been, are currently, or will be deployed. 

Camp is free. You just have to spring for travel costs. 

These camps will enable your child or children between the ages of 7 and 17 (depending on the camp and dates) to experience a number of outdoor adventures with other children from all the services going through the same experience: The deployment of a parent or guardian.

The program is occurring at 14 different sites around the country. Specific activities vary by campsite, but frequently include things like rock climbing, archery, arts & crafts, swimming, hiking and ropes courses.

Check the link above to learn the dates at each site and what ages the camp will accept.

Specific activities vary by campsite and age cohort, but frequently include things like rock climbing, archery, arts & crafts, swimming, hiking and ropes courses.

These activities are incidental, however: The main purpose of the Operation Purple Camp is to help children develop some tools to help them cope with the stress of having a family member deployed.

They are open to children of servicemembers of all ranks, and in all the services, including the Coast Guard, National Health Service and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), provided they have a family member who has been, is or will be deployed during this year’s “window” of September 2012 to December 2013.

Operation Purple Camp is affiliated with the Military Family Association – which just announced earlier this month that they received the sought-after four-star rating – the top possible score from CharityNavigator.com for efficiency and good stewardship of charitable donations – for the 10th year in a row. 

For more information about Operation Purple Camp, to fill out an application for your child, to volunteer or to make a much-needed contribution, visit the Military Family Association Website.

In addition to the camps for children, Operation Purple also sponsors family retreats and Healing Adventures – a special program for families of wounded servicemembers and their families. 

As Sequester Takes Hold, Military Schoolchildren Take it on the Chin

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Military schools cut with sequestrationThere are two levels to the impact of sequestration on military schoolchildren. The first is the direct impact of the payroll cuts and mandatory furloughs to the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), the federal bureaucracy within the Department of Defense that runs schools located on military posts around the world. But military families send their children to off-post schools as well – and these schools are bracing for a sharp reduction in federal “impact” aid, which they rely upon to offset the expenses of educating military children.

This impact aid is important because military people who live on post do not typically pay property taxes and while these families have children that have to be educated, these families do not directly contribute to the property tax base that traditionally funds local schools.

To qualify for federal impact aid, schools must meet one of two criteria:

  • Either 400 students or 3% of the student body are children of military personnel; or
  • 1000 students or 10% of the student body are children of military (both active duty
  • and activated Guard and Reservist), DA, DoD, DOJ Civilians, or Government Contractors that work at federal locations/properties.

Schools can also qualify for federal funding if federal lands exempt from property tax make up more than 10 percent of the district.

Thus, sequestration will soon be affecting not just the children educated on military installations, but all schools with significant concentrations of military dependents in their student bodies. All told, schools across the country will probably lose some $60 million in sequestration cuts.  It is the Department of Education, not the Department of Defense, that administers Impact aid. But this impact aid is subject to the same sequestration cuts that affect nearly every ‘discretionary program’ in the budget.

Military Children Shortchanged – Even Before the Sequester

As disruptive as the cuts to Impact Aid may be under the sequestration, they are trivial compared to the ongoing impact of neglect and chronic underfunding. According to reporting by USAToday.

The program has distributed $896 million in Federal Impact Aid for the 2010-11 school year, according to the Department of Education — $1 billion less than what those school districts were entitled to receive under the funding formula. The amount actually distributed by Congress has steadily decreased. Since fiscal year 2005-06, it has dropped from $995 million to the current $896 million.

“When the federal government doesn’t keep its end of the bargain, teachers, students, and parents all suffer,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., says via e-mail. More than 200 school districts in his state depend on the aid, he says.”

The precise effects of the cuts are unknown and will vary from district to district and from school to school. Broadly, military families can expect a reduction in paid teaching staff, resulting in turn in bigger class sizes and more crowded rooms.

Since the local school district workers are not federal employees, they are not subject to mandatory furloughs. Instead, administrators at each district or school affected have more freedom to decide how to allocate the expected cuts in school funding. Funding for nonessential programs and extracurricular activities such as music and athletics could be cut back or eliminated.  We could also see rollbacks in funding after school day care or other district-funded programs and services.

Schools are already cutting back in anticipation of the cuts. One school eliminated math and science teaching positions and cut back baseball, cross-country and swimming.

If the cuts continue into the next fiscal year, some districts warn that some schools could close altogether, since they will not have funding to staff or maintain them.  

UPDATE: Dyess AFB Toddler Dies of Neglect – Six Days After CPS Closes Case!

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Tiffany Nicole Klapheke indicted on chargesTiffany Nicole Klapheke, an Air Force spouse, has been indicted in the death of her 22 month-old daughter Tamryn through apparent neglect. Tamryn died last August 28th while in military housing on Dyess Air Force Base.

MilitaryAuthority.com first covered the tragic story here.

A grand jury indicted Klapheke on three counts of injury to a child. Tamryn apparently died from the withholding of food, water and basic care. Her husband was deployed at the time.

At least four Child Protective Services workers are also under investigation for possibly covering up evidence related to Tamryn’s neglect. The Abilene Department of Child Protective Services had concluded an investigation into the family’s ability or willingness to provide care. These four CPS workers have been placed on paid leave pending the results of the investigation, according to reporting by the Reporter News.

Klapheke is currently in jail awaiting trial.

Shortly after Tamryn’s death and her arrest, Tiffany Nicole Klapheke told a local television station that she became overwhelmed with depression, and that no one from the base had checked on her or asked her if she needed anything.

But according to the Reporter News, the Klapheke family had been the subject of previous neglect investigations at least three times, dating back to April of 2010. The Reporter News also reports that the Dyess AFB Family Advocacy clinic was involved in the investigations. The Klapheke family was under investigation for medical neglect of one or more of their children in 2011, though the case was closed in October of 2011 and medical neglect ruled out, according to CPS documents.

When Tamryn was found unresponsive and brought to the hospital, it had apparently been two weeks since she last had a diaper change, according to the examining physician. She also weighed only 17.5 pounds – severely underweight for a 22-month old. She had chemical burns on her body from prolonged exposure to her own waste.

A new supervisor at the Abilene Child Protective Services office actually closed an investigation only six days prior to Tamryn’s death. This was in apparent violation of regulations that required an in-person visit with the family before closing any investigations.

“You want to see the family again because you don’t know what might have changed since you saw them,” Crimmins said.

The employee hadn’t seen the family in about 10 months when she closed the case, he said. She resigned a couple of weeks after Tamryn Klapheke died.

Three individuals from the Abilene CPS office and at least one individual from the Wichita Falls office are under investigation for possibly tampering with or withholding evidence from law enforcement officers concerning the Klapheke case.

Meanwhile, another Airman, Senior Airman Christopher Perez, is also facing a number of UCMJ charges in connection with Tiffany Klapheke. Perez admits to having had a sexual affair with Tiffany Klapheke while her husband was deployed, and lived with her and the children for several weeks. Charges against him include adultery, child endangerment and neglect. He is currently confined to post.

The two other Klapheke children, aged six months and three years, have been placed in foster care. Their father, a USAF airman, has been transferred back to Dyess AFB. He is not at this time suspected of wrongdoing or neglect.

Department of Everything

Posted by Kelli McKinney

department of everythingA more narrow focus within the Department of Defense might free up nearly $68 billion over 10 years – money which would be better spent in more direct support of the military, says Senator Tom Coburn.

His recently released report, titled “Department of Everything” names what he calls duplicative and wasteful programs that he argues have little to do with our nation’s security. However, he also puts two DoD activities on the chopping block that some service members and retirees may take issue with: commissaries and elementary schools. Sen. Coburn says those two programs alone would eat up more than $24 billion in the next decade.

In his report, Sen. Coburn claims some of the more duplicitous among the DoD’s expenditures are:

  • Alternative Energy – $700 million
  • Non-Military Research and Development – $6 billion
  • Commissaries – $9 billion
  • Overhead, Support and Supply Services – $37 billion
  • Stateside DoD Elementary Schools and STEM programs – $15.2 billion

He also calls out some of the more unusual DoD projects funded by taxpayer dollars:

  • 100-year Starship Project  – $1 million
  • “Did Jesus Die for Klingons Too?” workshop – $100,000
  • Pentagon-branded beef jerky
  • Grill it Safe, a reality cooking show featuring two “Grill Sergeants”
  • Pentagon-operated microbreweries
  • Research on social interactions between robots and babies
  • Development of a smartphone app to alert users when to take a coffee break

So if all $67.8 billion was restored to the DoD’s military spending, what would that pay for? According to Sen. Coburn that funding could cover:

  • 1/3 of the cost of the USAF’s planned fleet of new strategic bombers
  • 1/3 of the cost of replacing the Navy’s fleet of Ohio-class nuclear submarines
  • Modernization or purchase of new rifles and light machine guns for every soldier in the Army.

What do you think of the Senator’s report? Would you cut everything he suggests? Is it fair to call commissaries and elementary schools duplicitous? Do you think the DoD is like a Department of Everything? Let us know in the comments.